On of my favorite albums when I was a kid was Golden Earring’s 1973 LP Moontan. It only had five songs on it, but one of them was the legendary “Radar Love.” A 13 year old kid in the United States, New Jersey no less, is clueless about where a particular band might hang its hat. Now that the adult John knows where Amsterdam is, The Netherlands has some appeal. Back then I didn’t know anything about being Dutch other than they seemed to have funny shoes and there seemed to be a lot of windmills in their pictures. I later found out they also brew a mean beer, but all that stuff didn’t matter to me back in 1973. I had to have the album that had “Radar Love” on it. I didn’t see Moontan as Progressive Rock, but then again I don’t see a lot of music as necessarily Progressive Rock. I’m a little slow there. I just looked at “Radar Love” as an iconic rock song along the lines of Free’s “All Right Now.” It was a must own once upon a time. Ironically, the Dutch band Focus also had a big hit around this time called “Hocus Pocus” complete with yodeling. Other Dutch acts such as The Outsiders (who had a 60′s Garage hit with “Time Won’t Let Me”) and The Shocking Blue (who rocked our world with the 1970 classic “Venus”) made some noise, but that was basically it. So much for the Dutch Invasion huh?
Moontan is a very cool record. Yeah I know you’ve heard “Radar Love” so many times it’s making you sick, but that’s not really Golden Earring’s fault. The song I have come to like the most is “Candy’s Going Bad,” but “Vanilla Queen” is outstanding as well. I will remind you again that back in the early 70′s, when you bought an LP, you usually played the whole thing on the order of 50 times before you decided if it was worth its salt. I’m not kidding. Every song. Moontan passed that test decades ago. The two songs I haven’t mentioned, “Are You Receiving Me?” and “Big Tree, Blue Sea” are also great tracks. I didn’t bat an eye playing side two of the LP even thought it just had these two songs on it. By definition, the extended length of a given track sort of lends itself to be thought of as a “composition” which roughly translates into “Progressive” where Rock is concerned. I suppose I can live with that. Everyone knows radio friendly music is normally much shorter than seven minutes, but the emergence of FM radio back then allowed for longer tracks. Truthfully the DJs needed to fill time and often needed songs long enough to tolerate bathroom breaks. Frequently late night talent would be lucky if there was an engineer on the premises in those days. Long songs had a place on the FM dial. Not so much anymore.
There isn’t a lot more to say about this record. I don’t have any little known tidbits, but in the larger scheme of things I was astounded to find out that Golden Earring has some 24 studio albums and one scheduled to be released later this year. I believe Moontan was their first release in the United States and it came with a different LP jacket. Apparently the one above was a bit too racy for 1973. I didn’t know any different, but it’s interesting to learn today. I know they had to take a hatchet to “Radar Love” in order to make it radio friendly. I don’t recall how much time was chopped off, but the long version released on Moontan was around 6:25. I know the version they played on U.S. radio was shorter than that. It probably had no drum solo. I just found out there was no “Big Tree, Blue Sea” on the Dutch version and it had two other tracks called “Suzy Lunacy” and “Just Like Vince Taylor.” Fun facts. I should track down those two tracks sometime soon. I’ll bet they’re pretty good. These guys were on a roll.
The unfortunate truth about Golden Earring in the United States is that aside from the 1982 single “Twilight Zone,” which can be found on their album Cut, Golden Earring failed to take over the world. In The Netherlands this band is understandably legend, but much like the band Status Quo in England, Golden Earring remained mostly a territorial phenomenon. Sadly, Moontan is the only Golden Earring record I own, but that doesn’t diminish the ardor I have for this record. If you are of a certain age you may want to download these five songs and turn on the Way Back Machine. They Don’t Write ‘Em Like That Anymore as someone once said. I’m purposely not posting “Radar Love” so you can get the most bang out of this post. Thanks for reading.
Buy or download Moontan from Amazon here.